Chicago to begin Seven Years of Famine.
From the Sun-Times:
Final Daley budget drains reserves to erase deficit
October 8, 2010
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Mayor Daley is apparently determined to go out on a political high, even if it sets his successor up for a fall.
Daley’s final budget will use one-time revenues to erase a $654.7 million deficit and still hold the line on taxes, fines and fees—with the exception of an already-planned, 20 percent increase in parking meter rates.
During closed-door briefings Friday, top mayoral aides confirmed what the Chicago Sun-Times reported last month: the mayor will use a mix of tax-increment-financing (TIF) funds, parking meter and Chicago Skyway reserves, budget cuts that eliminate 280 jobs and debt refinancing and restructuring to declare his 2011 budget balanced.
He also plans to count on $80 million in “more favorable revenues” and $32 million in savings generated by a full year of union concessions not yet negotiated. An agreement that calls for unpaid furlough days and comp time instead of cash overtime expires June 30.
Aldermen growing feistier by the day since Daley announced his decision to retire from politics accused the lame-duck mayor of papering over the city’s staggering financial problems and leaving his successor and the new City Council holding the bag.
As I wrote last month, I firmly believe Hizzoner's departure has always been about the money:
Sun to Set on the Bridgeport Empire
My guess is money...because the City is literally in hock, and it will very shortly no longer be able to pay the vig and continue to provide even minimal services without selling off the parks, the water, the sky, the air, the neighborhoods of Pilsen, Roger's Park and Austin...and all those pretty median-strip planters that for some reason we needed.
My guess is money...because the special, one-time-only pots of cash Daley got by selling off the city's Skyway and parking meters (at pawn-shop rates) and which were supposed to last for decades have instead been used to keep the Hizzoner's Administration propped up for a couple of years and is now all but gone. And the Olympics money-tide ain't coming to raise all of our boats.
My guess is money...because over the previous two and next 3-4 years, while those on the City's various Clout Lists will keep their gigs, the City's Number One output will probably end up being thousands of exhausted, laid-off and extremely pissed-off ex-employees looking to blab...
My guess is money...because governing the Great City is going to quickly get considerably less fun and more embarrassing-audit-and-ugly-headline intensive.
If Chicago had gotten the Olympics -- and its accompanying infusions of cash and easy credit --
you wouldn't have been able to pry Daley out of City Hall with 20 stout men and the Jaws of Life.
But the Olympics went elsewhere, so rather than sticking around as his beloved Chicago is buried under the mud slide of debt and dodgy accounting tricks his years in office have set in irrevocable motion, Da Mare is instead sprinting for the exit; skipping out before the tab for his long and lavish political feast arrives and using has last days to figuratively rip the copper pipes out of the walls of city gummint and selling them to pay for one final layer of gold leaf for his reputation.
This Spring -- after Daley has gone out in a garish blaze of borrowed and purloined money -- Chicago will begin a genuine Seven Years of Famine, because the ugly, hangover-reality is that Hizzoner will leave behind him a desperately broke, exhausted and demoralized government, choking on as many clouted-up friends and foot soldiers as he can pack in before his big farewell.
Any hope of cleaning up that mess is going to require a superhuman effort on the part of an army of competent professionals.
Too bad the reckless behavior of Daley's Cloutocracy has drive so many of them far, far away.
(A reminder that if you want to share your story, EMAIL ME at driftglass00 AT yahoo DOT com. Confidentiality assured.)